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"All You Need Is Love" is a song written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney. It was first performed by The Beatles on Our World, the first live global television link. Watched by 400 million in 26 countries, the programme was broadcast via satellite on June 25 1967 . The BBC had commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the UKmarker's contribution. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at #362 in their 500 greatest songs of all time.


Asked to come up with a song containing a simple message to be understood by all nationalities, Lennon's "All You Need Is Love" extended the message he first tried in "The Word", from The Beatles' 1965 album Rubber Soul. "It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message," said Brian Epstein. "The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything." According to journalist Jade Wright, "Lennon was fascinated by the power of slogans to unite people and never afraid to create art out of propaganda. When asked in 1971 whether songs like Give Peace a Chance and Power to the People were propaganda songs, he answered: 'Sure. So was All You Need Is Love. I'm a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change.'"

The Beatles decided the song should be their next single the day before the Our World broadcast. Released in the UK on July 7, it went straight to No. 1 and remained there for three weeks. It was similarly successful in the US, reaching No. 1 for a week (appearing on the American LP version of Magical Mystery Tour in November).

It was the last song both recorded and released by the band before the death of the band's manager, Brian Epstein, on 27 August 1967, little more than a month after the song was released.

The interviews on The Beatles Anthology documentary series reveal that Paul McCartney and George Harrison were unsure whether the song was written for Our World. However, George Martin and Ringo Starr assert it was. When asked, McCartney replied:
"I don't think it was written specially for it.
But it was one of the songs we had.
[...] It was certainly tailored to it once we had it.
But I've got a feeling it was just one of John's songs that was coming there.
We went down to Olympic Studios in Barnes and recorded it and then it became the song they said, 'Ah.
This is the one we should use.'
I don't actually think it was written for it."

Live broadcast

For the broadcast, the Beatles were (except for Starr) seated on stools, accompanied by a small studio orchestra. They were surrounded by friends and acquaintances seated on the floor, who sang with the refrain during the fade-out, including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful, Keith Richards, Keith Moon, Eric Clapton, Pattie Harrison, Jane Asher, Mike McCartney, Graham Nash, Gary Leeds and Hunter Davies.

The performance was not completely live: The Beatles, the orchestra, and guests were overdubbing onto a pre-recorded rhythm track mainly consisting of piano, harpsichord, drums, and backing vocals. The full Our World segment opens with the band and company listening to the raw backing track, as commentator Steve Race explained the process in voiceover. The live overdubs seem to include not only lead vocals, orchestra, and the improvised call-and-response, but also bass guitar, Harrison's guitar solo, and a second drum track - which seems to go out of time with the original track during the first few bars. At the beginning of the song, under "La Marseillaise," a tambourine is shaken, but this was mixed out and replaced with a drum roll before the single was released.

Lennon, affecting indifference, was said to be nervous about the broadcast, given the potential size of the international TV audience. Dissatisfied with his singing, he re-recorded the solo verses for use on the single. Starr also overdubbed drums before the single was released, fixing the aforementioned timing problems and adding the drum roll.

Contrary to popular belief, the program was not broadcast in color but in black and white, as color television had yet to commence broadcasting in Britain and most of the world. The Beatles' footage was colorized, based on color photographs of the event, for The Beatles Anthology documentary.


Because of the worldwide broadcast, the song was given an international feel, opening with the French National anthem "La Marseillaise" omitting the first note, and including excerpts of other pieces during the long fade-out, including "2-part Invention #8 in F" by Johann Sebastian Bach (transposed to G and played on 2 piccolo trumpets), "Greensleeves" (played by the strings), Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" (played on a saxophone), one of the Beatles' seminal hits (particularly in Great Britain and the United States), "She Loves You" (ad libbed by Lennon and McCartney ), and Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March" lilting off at the end. Many sources, including Beatles' producer George Martin, have misremembered or misidentified the Bach quote as being from the "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2". Lennon can also be heard scatting what sounds like the title of "Yesterday", though others maintain he is saying "Yes, you can." (Interestingly, the vocal chart for this song on The Beatles: Rock Band lists the lyric as "yesterday")

The structure of the song is complex. The main body (the verse) is in a 7/4 time signature with two measures of 7/4, one of 8/4, then back to 7/4 with the intro background vocals repeatedly singing "Love, love, love", over the top of which enter Lennon's lyrics:

By contrast, the chorus is simple: "All you need is love", in 4/4 time repeated against the horn response but, each chorus has only seven measures as opposed to the usual eight, and the seventh is 6/4, then back to the verse in 7/4.

Lennon had previously experimented with mixed time signatures. The song "We Can Work It Out" from 1965 has a 16 measure bridge composed by Lennon in which he juxtaposes 4 measures each of 4/4 and 3/4.

"All You Need Is Love" remains one of only two songs (along with Pink Floyd's "Money" from 1973) written in 7/4 time to reach the top 20 in the United States.

In the film Yellow Submarine (1968), the second verse as well as the instrumental are deleted. Also, the last choruses are switched, the "all together now", and "everybody" coming first before the last group of choruses.


  • John Lennon: lead and background vocals, harpsichord and banjo.
  • Paul McCartney: bass, double bass and background vocals.
  • George Harrison: lead guitar, violin and background vocals.
  • Ringo Starr: drums and percussion.
  • George Martin: piano, orchestration and production.
  • Session musicians played strings, brass, woodwind and accordion as conducted by Mike Vickers.
  • Friends and studio people made hand claps and sang background vocals (including Mick Jagger, Keith Moon and many others.


Cover versions

Group or artist’s name Release date Album title Additional information
The 5th Dimension 1971-10 The 5th Dimension/Live!
Eddie Chacon 1987 12" single Columbia 4406930
Echo & the Bunnymen 1988 New Live and Rare This version is also included on Crystal Days 1979-1999; they also released a live cover as a bonus track on the 2003 re-release of their 1985 album Ocean Rain.
Anything Box 1991-05 Worth
Tom Jones 1993-01 single
Ferrante & Teicher 1993-01-29 The Greatest Love Songs of All
John Bayless 1994-02-15 Bach Meets the Beatles
The Undead 1998-07 Till Death
Lynden David Hall 2003-11-11 Love Actually



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